The Monumental Church Brasses of Thurrock



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Thurrock Church Brasses

Inscription recording the Benefaction of Thomas Hotofte, 1495

This eight line English inscription plate (146mm x 635mm), (Fig 1*. ) produced by a London workshop, was formerly secured to the vestry or tower wall as recorded when Rev. James Blomfield published `A Statement of the Charities and other Bequests to the parish of Orsett, Essex; with a short account of its Antiquities and other matters' in 1864 and so remained until it was affixed to the south nave wall following the fire which took place in 1927. The inscription reads:

`This is the last will and testament of Thomas Hotofte of Orssett Decessed made in y` yere of owre /Lorde God a - 1495 - I will & bequethe to ye parishinars of Orssett a psett of land cawled Gould/well beyng in ye pryshe of Horndo that I bowghte of my mother among other land now taken/ away by order of Lawe as bie his land will more at large will apere whiche land cawled Gould/well I give to bere owte the comon fyne of Orssett for ever. I will the Churchewardens for the/tyme beyng shall make yerely acounte before the prishiners of Orssett aforesayde for the/yerely proffitt of all ye sayd Land cawled Gouldwell to ye behofe of ye sayd prishnars of/Orssett this done pformed & kepte I will shawle injoye it ye sayd Gouldwell for evermore'.

Thomas Hotofte of Orsett and Knebworth, Hertford-shire was a most generous benefactor and was respon-sible for the first recorded charity in the parish. Hotofte, as the inscription records, left forty acres of land called Gouldwell in the parish of Horndon-on-the-Hill to the churchwardens of Orsett to pay annually the common fine of 20s of which the profits were to be accounted for to the parishioners. The Hotofte family also made the north chancel into a chantry which was endowed by a yearly payment of 7 16s 8d.

The following description relates to the civilian that Palin suggests could be the memorial to Thomas Hotofte. Martin Stuchfield has described the reverse of this brass:

"Following removal of this brass on 24th July 1991 it was discovered that this memorial was palimpsest, that is to say composed of previously used metal. The reverse of the male effigy has revealed the upper portion of a larger civilian, probably produced by a London workshop, c1480. The figure is depicted inclined towards his wife in an attitude of prayer. The hair, majority of the face and a belt buckle are clearly discernible. (Fig 2*. ) A further fragment (40mm x 26mm) may constitute wasted material emanating from an armoured effigy. The reverse of the scroll, also produced by a London workshop, c1480, bears the following text from Job 19.v.25 which seems to have been made narrower for reuse: '(N)ovissi(m)o die de t(er)ra Surrectur(us) Sum' (Fig 3*. )

Due to deterioration of the stone the remaining elements of this brass have been rebated into a hardwood board together with the outlines indicating the lost representation of the Holy Trinity and foot inscription. This board was mounted onto the south wall of the north chapel adjacent to a separate board containing resin facsimiles of the newly discovered reverse engraving on 7th March, 1992.

Other Orsett brasses





Fig 1*.





Fig 2*.

Fig 3*.

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